New Milford High hockey finishes season strong
NEW MILFORD — With a number of holes to fill on the roster and in search of leadership, the New Milford High School ice hockey team was facing some questions entering the season.
The Green Wave appears ready for a bright future with the answers they found this season.
With a combination of a small but solid senior class — and underclassmen embracing bigger roles — New Milford and coach Scott Capriglione had a successful season that included another state playoff berth.
New Milford went 9-11 in the regular season and drew the No. 9 seed in the CIAC Division II playoffs. The Green Wave went out to Storrs to face No. 8 E.O. Smith-Tolland and lost, 4-1.
New Milford was coming off a 2014-15 season in which it went to the state quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks, 4-3.
Seven seniors departed from that squad, leaving behind a history of success as well as holes in the lineup.
“We knew we had a big hill to climb with losing seven seniors last year,” Capriglione said. “But I could not have been more proud of how this year’s seniors stepped right in to fill those leadership roles.”
Hook was named all-conference this season.
“Avery Hook had an amazing year at defense and as our team captain,” Capriglione said. “His play at both ends of the ice led to much of our success.”
Zimmerman was one of New Milford’s best offensive players this season.
“Riley picked up where he left off last year and was a force in the offensive zone. I have not coached many players with the strength and quick release that Riley possesses,” Capriglione said.
“As assistant captain, he gave the younger players a great role model to follow.”
Thompson and Montalvo also made important contributions on defense with Thompson coming into his own as a defenseman and Montalvo getting his first varsity experience as a goalie.
“Justin developed into a go-to player in the defensive zone. Justin’s attitude and effort is what you hope every player strives to reach,” Capriglione said. “I was fortunate to have coached Justin since youth hockey and have seen his development.
“Chris was called upon to step into a difficult situation not having had much game experience. He rose to the challenge and had some key wins against Watertown and Amity,” Capriglione said.
“Chris’s outstanding athleticism helped make up for any lack of game experience. He came to practice every day looking to get better and really stepped up.”
At one point this season, the Green Wave lost four straight and six of seven games. With the playoffs seemingly slipping out of reach, New Milford rallied to win four straight, including overtime victories over Daniel Hand and Watertown
“The team had an amazing turnaround the second half of the season,” Capriglione said. “Even though it was a bit of a rebuilding year where many thought we would have a tough year, we surprised a lot of people. We finished fifth in the SCC and ranked ninth in the state for Division II.”
With just four seniors leaving the program, the Green Wave will return a good-sized core of players that figured prominently in this season’s success.
Forward and co-captain Nate Capriglione had a strong sophomore campaign. while Hunter Colburn and Peyton Meyer will headline the returning junior class.
Freshman Ben Marano also saw time between the pipes for the Green Wave and will give them an experienced goalie heading into next season.
“It is a great sign for seasons to come with the number of underclassmen we had this year,” Capriglione said.
“We are very optimistic heading into next season with the amount of young talent that now has a year under their belt. We will be looking to this year’s juniors to step into the leadership roles vacated by this year’s seniors.”